Entertaining Before Dinner

Entertaining Before Dinner

By Brenda Hyde

Each time I have had a crowd of people over for a dinner or holiday open house they walk in starving. It doesn't matter what time they arrive or how close dinner is. I have found some special extras for guests to munch on that really helps to give me some time in the kitchen without people asking where the meal is every 5 minutes. It also encourages them to talk among themselves while last minute things are being prepared. If someone asks to help in the kitchen and you don't really need it, ask that they keep an eye on the kids or help keep them entertained for a little while.

Spicy Shrimp Spread


1/2 pound frozen salad shrimp

1 fresh jalapeno, halved and seeded

1 medium clove garlic, peeled

8 ounces cream cheese, light or regular

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1/8 tsp. salt

pinch of sugar

Put jalapeno and garlic in food processor, blender or mince very very fine. Add remaining ingredients except shrimp. Process until smooth. Add shrimp and just process until coursely chopped. Can be refrigerated up to 2 days. I serve this with thin crackers, bagel chips or pita crisps.

Poppy Seed Bread


1 1/2 cups granulate sugar

1 cup butter or margarine

3 large eggs

1 1/2 tsp. almond extract

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups milk, 2% or whole

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat 350 degree oven. Combine sugar, butter, eggs, and extracts. Mix on medium speed, scrape bowl often until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Beat 1-2 minutes more until mixed. Pour into bundt or tube pan. Bake 50-65 minutes until done. Cool 10 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Slice into medium thin pieces and place on serving plate for guests.

Easy Cheese Dip

I got this recipe from my Mother-in-Law years ago. It started out as a cheese ball and along the way became a dip for everything! You can serve with pretzels, crackers, bagel pieces or pita chips.


8 ounces light cream cheese

1 jar Roca cheese spread from Kraft

1 jar Old English spread from Kraft

Dash garlic powder

Mix it all together; the cheese should be soft to do this. Be sure to take out of the refrigerator so it can be room temperature to serve. Note: I've also experimented with using Cheese Whiz light in place of both Kraft spreads, and adding a little more garlic powder. It was very good!

Pistachio Bread

Another recipe from my Mother-in-Law. A holiday doesn't go by that one of us doesn't make this!


1 yellow cake mix

1 box instant pistachio pudding

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 pint sour cream

4 large eggs

1/4 cup water

Mix all ingredients with a mixer until blended, at least 2 minutes. In another bowl mix these ingredients:

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup crushed walnuts or pecans

1 tsp. cinnamon

This makes two loaves. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter pans. Start with a layer of the bread mixture, then sprinkle on some of the nut mixture, another layer of bread mixture, and at the end sprinkle the top with the nut mixture and marble it all with a knife through the batter. This does not have to be exact as far as the layers as long as you distribute it in both loaves and then marble. Bake for one hour until a toothpick tests clean.

About the author

Brenda Hyde is a wife and Mom of three, living in the rural Midwest. She is also the editor of Old Fashioned Living and a freelance writer.


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